Fencing a foil to grad student stress

Discipline. Focus. The ability to think on your feet. Such are the benefits of the sport of fencing.

These benefits brought second-year WSU Ph.D. student Julie Dawson back to the sport she originally began at age 15 but gave up during her busy undergrad years at Cornell. They are the same benefits she touts to other students, as well as faculty and staff, in hopes of engaging their interest in the WSU fencing club.

“Fencing is a good way to relax,” Dawson says. “It requires me to think in a different way. I have to be completely in the moment.”

The WSU club has about 15 members. The season is year-round, and the club practices Tuesdays and Thursdays, 7-10 p.m., as well as Sunday afternoons for about three hours. Practice is in the field house next to Smith Gym, on the second floor above the Outdoor Recreation Center.

“We have a lot of beginners,” Dawson says. “We try to make practices as fun as possible.”

Typically it will take a month or two for beginners to start bouting with a partner, she says. At that point, novices are paired with the best fencers so that the beginners don’t practice bad habits. The experienced member will slow down the action and occasionally stop the bout to explain something or correct the novice.

Competitions are hosted by clubs throughout the region, and club members can choose to participate or not. One member of the WSU club, Dylan Morris, recently took second place at a tournament.

Between Seattle and Portland, there probably are two or three tournaments a month, Dawson says. The University of Idaho typically sponsors two each year, and clubs in the Tri-Cities, Boise and Spokane also host contests.

But Dawson does none of these. Fencing for her is exercise and relaxation rather than competition.

“I enjoy the recreation aspect,” she says. “For me, it is more like a martial art.”

For more information on the fencing club, contact Dawson at jcdawson@mail.wsu.edu.

Club Hoppin’ is an occasional series of articles about some of the lesser-known of the 25 clubs in the WSU Sport Club Federation. Faculty and staff are welcome to participate, though in some sports competition is restricted to students.

Next Story

Recent News

Reflecting on the spring semester

In a letter to the WSU community, President Kirk Schulz emphasizes the university’s commitment to free speech and the importance of recognizing our shared humanity.